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A Note on the “Jeffrey Epstein’s List” Rhetoric

A Tweet from Donald Trump Jr, self-styled “Future Leader Ministry of Truth”:

There’s something seriously broken in federal Law Enforcement if they’re going after Mike Lindell, but not the people on Jeffery Epstein’s list.

“Jeffrey Epstein’s list” here does not mean Epstein’s famous address book [1], which appeared online in redacted form in 2015, and which it was agreed would not be made public during Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial, nor it is his flight logs.

Instead, the phrase refers to a speculative “client list” that either Epstein supposedly kept himself or that was compiled by investigators who asssed the evidence of his crimes. Elon Musk mused in June that it was “odd” that the media didn’t care about “The Epstein/Maxwell client list”, and his Tweet was picked up by Tucker Carlson in August as a supposed contrast with coverage of the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago. The American Spectator even speculated that the raid occurred because Trump has a copy of the list.

The implication is that the list consists of powerful people, and that federal law enforcement are failing to “go after” them due to their status. This dovetails with concerns over the leniency and discretion with which Epstein was treated following his original conviction in 2008, his attempts to restore his reputation before his final fall (not least by being photographed with Prince Andrew [2]), and conspiracy theories about the circumstances of his death in prison.

After so many failed prophecies of Pizzagate and QAnon, the Epstein scandal seemed at last to offer concrete proof that “elites” are despicable sex criminals who act with impunity, even if the details are hardly comparable to bizarre claims about infants being tortured for adrenochrome and so on. The purported existence of a hidden list of names, and speculation about who features on it, is likely to become part of the mythology of conspiricists for years to come, continually stoked by the political rhetoric of rival elites who want us to believe it is inherently unfair for them to be investigated for anything.


1. The address book is a mundane list of contacts of the sort that you would expect any well-connected public figure to have built up. However, individuals featured in it have been subjected to accusations and denunciations based on wild interpretations of its significance. The British broadcaster Andrew Neil is currently suing Boris Johnson’s former lover Jennifer Arcuri for libel over one such instance of this.

2. I find it odd that Virginia Roberts Giuffre does not appear to accuse Prince Andrew in her 2011 correspondence with the journalist Sharon Churcher (a point I’m surprised hasn’t been made much of anywhere). However, Andrew’s explanation for meeting Epstein and being seen with him in public in 2010 is also odd.